February 27, 2020

2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup

On Tuesday evening, Virginia’s top-scoring wines were served to a crowd of wine lovers at Main Street Station in Richmond, VA. The 38th Governor’s Cup Competition continues to be the benchmark to which wines on the East Coast aspire, and last night’s announcements revealed new and exciting things about Virginia’s wine industry. Read below to learn more about the competition and to relive the Governor’s Cup Celebration.

2020 Governor’s Cup Case Winners: Illustration by Hannah Largen. Download your copy here.

The Competition

The first Governor’s Cup Competition took place in 1982, during Virginia Wine Week in August. In 1988, the competition was moved to October to coincide with the newly formed Virginia Wine Month. Eventually, the competition was held during the first part of the year and revamped to be one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the United States.

All wines entered into the competition must be made with 100% Virginia fruit, and include an affidavit with a certification of 100 percent Virginia fruit and vineyard particulars. Judging is done in two rounds and wrapped up by the end of January. Learn more about the competition here.

530 wines were submitted for judging this year — a record number of entries. 64 gold medals were awarded to 40 wineries.


Left to right: Judges Steven Spurrier, Marguerite Thomas, and Deborah Parker Wong

This year’s Governor’s Cup Competition judges came from all over — Virginia, Maryland, New York, California, and, of course, Steven Spurrier joining from the UK. The esteemed group of judges includes Masters of Wine, wine educators, wine scholars, food and wine writers, sommeliers, distributors, and retailers. To learn more about the judges, click here.

The competition is headed by Jay Youmans, one of 51 Masters of Wine in the United States, and one of two in the Washington, DC area. Speaking about the competition, Jay says, “Virginia wines continue to impress, year over year. The overall quality continues to grow, and every vintage tells a fascinating story.”

The Celebration

Held on the last Tuesday in February, the Governor’s Cup Celebration is attended by Virginia wineries, media, wine retailers, members of the General Assembly, and the Governor’s Cabinet. After tasting through the gold medal-winning wines, guests gathered at the north end of the station for the awards program. Below are those who received awards for their contributions to the Virginia wine industry:

Wine Person of the Year
Justin Rose, Rosemont of Virginia Winery

Gordon Murchie Lifetime Achievement Award
Randy Phillips, Cave Ridge Vineyard

SJ65 — Celebration of David King
Presented to James, Stuart and Carrington King of King Family Vineyards by Delegate Chris Runion

David King Advocate of the Year Award
George Hodson, Veritas Vineyard and Winery

Cindi Causey then took the stage to give an overview of the competition and announce the Governor’s Cup Case winners.

2020 Governor’s Cup Case Winners

868 Estate Vineyards 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito

Afton Mountain Vineyards 2017 Tradition

Barboursville Vineyards 2014 Octagon

Barboursville Vineyards 2018 Vermentino Reserve

Delaplane Cellars 2017 Williams Gap

Lake Anna Winery 2017 Tannat

Michael Shaps Wineworks 2016 Meritage

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards 2017 Petit Verdot

Pollak Vineyards 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve

Pollak Vineyards 2017 Smuggler

Rockbridge Vineyard 2017 Vd’Or

Shenandoah Vineyards 2017 Reserve Red

The Winner

Governor Ralph Northam with the team from 868 Estate Vineyards

Following remarks by Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring, who affirmed this administration’s continued support for the Virginia Wine industry, Governor Ralph S. Northam took the stage to announce the 2020 Governor’s Cup winner as 868 Estate Vineyards’ 2017 Vidal Blanc Passito“I am thrilled to award the Governor’s Cup to Carl DiManno and congratulate the whole team at 868 Estate Vineyards on their sweet finish,” said Governor Northam. “The Vidal Blanc Passito embodies both the experimentation and artistry that has made Virginia the leading East Coast destination for wine. This year’s Governor’s Cup case is a strong reflection of our world-class wine industry and the distinctive wines being produced in our Commonwealth.”

Speaking to his wine, 868 Estate winemaker, Carl DiManno said, “The 2017 Passito was the culmination of a concerted winemaking effort,” says 868 Estate Vineyard’s Co-Founder and Winemaker, Carl DiManno. “I take a very hands-on approach in the winery, and a lot of love and hard work went into this wine, but it was well worth it. I am thrilled that Loudoun’s wines are getting the recognition that they deserve.”

The entire Virginia Wine industry congratulates Carl and the entire team at 868 Estate on their well-deserved win. We look forward to next year’s competition — cheers!

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